A unique claim of conspiracy against American consumers has been leveled against OPEC in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington by activist lawyer Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch USA.
The public interest organization charges that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries engages in illegal price fixing and market division by artificially inflating crude prices.
Klayman said the member nations “specifically and intentionally limit barrels of oil that each country produces,” causing the price to rise.
“This amounts to illegal price fixing,” he said, as well as antitrust law violations.
“These artificially inflated crude oil prices fall hard on the backs of Americans, many of whom cannot afford to buy gasoline during these severely depressed economic times,” said Klayman, a former Justice Department lawyer deemed to have experience to take on OPEC.
As a government attorney in the Antitrust Division, Klayman participated in breaking up AT&T. Now he and Freedom Watch have launched a campaign against the 12 nations that work together on oil prices and production.
Klayman alleges leaders of both U.S. political parties “line their pockets from big oil interests and are just sitting back and not doing anything.”
He also noted the federal government is not allowing the United States to increase its own oil production, and Barack Obama’s policies have discouraged oil discovery and drilling.
“This has led to more speculation on oil prices, causing them to rise. And the president’s policies regarding Iran also have contributed to the spike,” he said.
The complaint argues that without OPEC’s anti-competitive agreement, more oil would be in production, and the result would be lower prices.
“Even when OPEC members produce to the full extent of their capacity, they produce far less oil than they would were they operating in a competitive market, because they artificially restrict their production capacity as part of their price-fixing scheme,” the complaint alleges.
“The … nature of OPEC’s price-fixing conduct is further confirmed by its course of dealing with non-members. OPEC has met with these non-members and has secured their agreement to limit production and has thereby increased the price of gasoline and other petroleum products over competitive levels,” the complaint said.
“As a purchaser, plaintiff is entitled to bring this action under the Sherman and Clayton Acts for injunctive relief,” Klayman continued.
Klayman previously has brought legal action against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on behalf of torture victims, advancing the case against Iran to the point of obtaining a default judgment.
Klayman also won a nearly $2 million unpaid judgment against Cuban interests in 1996 over the shooting down of an airplane.